Category Archives: Design

False Start Ropes

A false start/recall rope is a rope that stretches across the width of competitive racing pools. It stops swimmers who were unaware of a false start. They’re specifically designed to get the attention of swimmers to prevent them from exerting unnecessary energy in the case of a false start. Typically, the rope is made of some sort of polymer plastic to prevent deterioration from the water, and includes two floats and two quick-snap connectors with weights. The rope is typically located about halfway on yard pools and about 50-feet from the starting end on meter pools.

Counsilman-Hunsaker has continued to include false start ropes in all of our competition facility designs, per National Governing Body (NGB) requirements. All major governing organizations’ requirements surrounding false start ropes can be seen below:

USA Swimming: A device to recall swimmers shall be provided. If a recall rope is used, it shall be placed at the mid-point of the course in long course facilities and at the turn end backstroke flags in short course facilities.
International Swimming Federation (FINA): False Start Rope may be suspended across the pool not less than 1.2 meters above the water level from fixed standards placed 15.0 meters in front of the starting end. It shall be attached to the standards by a quick release mechanism. The rope must effectively cover all lanes when activated.
National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA): No Requirement
National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS): A recall device shall be required for all swimming events at all meets. When a recall rope is used, it should be placed beyond the 15-meter mark.

As lifelong devotees of aquatics for life, we at Counsilman-Hunsaker have been to a fair amount of swim meets over the years. We’ve seen everything from High School meets, NCAA competitions, the Olympic Trials and even the World Championships. And it has been a long time since any of us have seen false start ropes utilized.

With technology continuing to advance at a breakneck pace, over the years we started to see false start ropes usage fade. False starts can now be detected in the starting blocks themselves. False start ropes haven’t necessarily been upheld as necessities. So, our question to you is: does anyone still use false start ropes? Be sure to add where you do or don’t see the benefits in the comments below!

 

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Cruise Line Lifeguarding

In recent years, we have seen too many accidental drownings aboard cruise ships. For decades, cruise ships have adopted a ‘swim-at-your-own-risk’ policy as an industry standard. But now cruise lines, are taking further steps to ensure the safety of its guests by adding certified lifeguards to their fleet. That being said, when conducting training on a cruise line like this, there are certain things to keep in mind that can help create a better training experience for everyone.
Crew members participating in a lifeguard training program put in ten hour days over a three-day period. The training consisted of both classroom sessions, as well as in-water sessions that take place on-shore The classroom sessions cover a variety of swim safety information and topics, while the in-water sessions deal with actual procedures and drills the lifeguard team would need to conduct on the job. Working with small classes of 5-10 participants ensures that individual attention can be given to each staff member. Lifeguards can mean the difference between life and death for some cruise-goers, so it’s important that they get personalized, proper training. Cruise ships tend to attract international travelers And this is no different for cruise staff.. There will likely be language and cultural barriers to overcome when facilitating training on a cruise ship. Be prepared to spend extra time simplifying concepts, and ensuring that all information is comprehended. Speaking slowly and clearly while avoiding cultural idioms can help as well. Ultimately, patience is key. With these strategies, your participants may surprise you with their skills and ability to function as a team.
Conducting lifeguard training on a cruise liner varies greatly from training on-land in the typical pool or water park environment. However, you will need to alter the training to address some of the differences and challenges associated with lifeguarding on a cruise ship. For example, consult with international maritime law experts to ensure you are providing the most accurate information regarding standard operating procedures, including legal considerations, facility management and safety. This approach allows the instructors to be more knowledgeable and provide information that is more applicable to cruise line lifeguarding classes.

Due to the large number of people aboard the vessel every day, a cruise ship can be an unpredictable place. Allowing for flexibility in your training is essential. Instructors should be able to adapt the classroom and pool schedule for any last-minute challenges. At times, management of the ship may be conducting their first shakedown cruise. This requires altering the schedule to allow more time at the pool When time permits.
The American Red Cross Lifeguarding program remains the gold standard in lifeguard training even on the high seas. It offers a great educational experience while simultaneously meeting the requirements for the course.

Expansion and Contraction in PVC Pool Piping

In the commercial swimming pool industry, the overwhelming choice for pool piping material selection is Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC). The use of such materials can provide security, as it is non-corrosive, and if installed properly, some would say this pipe material can provide an almost infinite life span. But, in comparison to other pipe material selections, such as cast-iron, ductile iron, steel and concrete, PVC has a much higher coefficient of thermal expansion. This coefficient considers the amount of expansion or contraction that will occur due to the temperature range your pipe will endure and the length of pipe you are calculating. Thus, the design and installation of PVC pipe must consider how to accommodate such changes in pipe length.
For pools located in areas with seasonal temperature changes that utilize long runs of straight pipe sections, consideration should be given to accommodating expansion and contraction of the pipe. The ASTM Standard 2774 Underground Installation of Thermoplastic Pressure Piping, contains specific information on the topic of expansion and contraction in pool piping. A science-based formula for determining the expected change in pipe length due to expansion and contraction is:

By knowing the amount of expansion or contraction that will occur in your piping system, you can adjust the design as needed. These accommodations can range from changes in vertical or horizontal direction of your piping system, to the use of mechanical expansion and contraction joints. Changes in pipe direction using expansion loops, offsets and bends are ways to accommodate the expected changes in pipe length within your system. Considering that pool piping systems often have changes in direction due to the inclusion of supply inlets, main drains and feature supplies, the design and installation of the underground pool piping system naturally accommodates expansion and contraction. However, there are times when pipe runs become quite lengthy without changes in direction, and considerations for the inclusion of an expansion loop or mechanical joint will be needed.

Mechanical expansion joints come in many different types. Their primary purpose is to provide a means of flexibility in the piping network for expansion and contraction. They often work by allowing the pipe to slide into or out of itself like a piston. Installation of mechanical expansion joints for underground piping is critical. If the mechanical expansion joints, along with the materials used for backfill around the joints, are not properly installed, the effectiveness can be compromised. For example, backfill materials can make their way into the mechanical joint and hamper pipe movement. If backfill materials are a concern, it is recommended to boot the joint for protection.

In most installations, the straight pipe runs are not excessive enough or the design of the piping network will already include many bends or turns in the pipe. However, for those occasions where environmental factors result in expansion and contraction of pool piping, or straight pipe runs 100 feet or more exist, the design and installation must have allowances for the changes in pipe length that will occur. Without these provisions, the underground piping will be susceptible to potential damage, which will result in leaks to your pool piping system.

Springboard Diving

As a full-service aquatic consulting firm, we strive to design facilities that meet the needs of all user groups. While many aquatic sport facilities revolve around competitive swimming, we certainly do not want to neglect diving. While most university and high school teams only have 5-10 divers on their roster, they can be a secret weapon to propel a team over the competition. For instance, Purdue University finished in 13th place at the 2017 NCAA Championships with a final score of 106.5. The Boilermakers, Purdue’s diving team, scored 94.5 of the total 106.5 score for Purdue. Without the diving team, Purdue would have finished tied for 32nd place. Clearly, consideration should be given to a facility’s diving amenities.

Coincidentally, Purdue has one of the premier diving training facilities in the country, which includes a separate warm water diving pool with a massive 1-meter, 3-meter, 5-meter, 7.5-meter, and 10-meter diving tower. This facility has even attracted athletes like Olympic platform diving medalists Steele Johnson and David Boudia to train and compete at the university. While not every facility has the capacity or need for a platform as elaborate as Purdue’s, there are subtle ways to make your facility stand out when it comes to springboard diving.

There are two ways to mount a 1-meter or 3-meter springboard: on a stand or on a concrete platform. We tend to see a prefabricated, manufactured stand more often than anything else. These stands are made of heavy-duty aluminum and anchored to the deck using bronze deck anchors. The stands include handrails on both sides, as well as a ladder at the rear end of the board.

Shelby Bartlett, the four-time NCAA Zone qualifier and recently-appointed head diving coach at Saginaw Valley State University said that she prefers concrete platforms.

“They provide a more stable surface. Manufactured stands sometimes tend to shake, especially if they are older. And if the hand railings extend past the fulcrum, you can sometimes hit your hand on your walk down the board,” said Bartlett.

While manufactured stands are a good solution for low-level competition, Counsilman-Hunsaker has found that most high-level competitors prefer the more permanent solution that concrete platforms provide. These platforms also tend to be safer to travel up and down on.

Concrete platforms can be customized depending on the number and type of boards needed. Typically, we recommend providing two of each type of board to allow for multiple divers to practice simultaneously. Reinforcement for concrete platforms is designed by a structural engineer and is tested under both static and dynamic loads. A manufactured short stand is mounted to the concrete platform using bronze anchors and can come with or without handrails. If owners would prefer no handrails, they can be moved to surround the outside concrete platform to provide additional security on the elevated surface. This eliminates the risk of hands hitting the rails during divers’ approaches. In some jurisdictions, the concrete stairs leading to platforms fall under the design requirements of the International Building Code (IBC), which states that a maximum riser height for stairs is 7” with a maximum tread width of 11”. Both measurements are lower than that of most codes.

Counsilman-Hunsaker’s designed concrete stands have two intermediate steps bridging the elevation difference from the deck to the top of the one meter diving board surface.  There is a 10” riser difference between the deck and the first step, as well as between the first and second steps.  Between the second step and the top of the diving board, there is a 19-3/8” difference. Also, each step only has a “tread” depth of 4-3/8” at the deepest point.

While manufactured stands do not fall under the IBC, Counsilman Hunsaker can design custom stands to fit the gutter profile and meet requirements to provide a safer springboard experience.

Being leaders in aquatic design means presenting clients with all of their aquatic sport facility options. Determining the right diving amenities for you is just one of the many decisions we help make during the programming phase of design. Counsilman-Hunsaker has the tools to help guide your aquatic design to meet all user group needs.

Underwater Pool Lighting: What You Need to Know

Underwater pool lighting is a surefire way to add to the wow factor of your pool. Pool lighting can enhance a pool’s visual appeal, add visibility or even change the overall mood of the pool with lights that change colors. With recent advancements in underwater lighting technology, it is important to understand the proper terminology, code standards and industry trends in order to successfully navigate the sometimes confusing world of underwater pool lighting.

Design of underwater lighting for the commercial pool industry has typically been based upon watts per square foot of water surface area. Wattage ratings for pool lights, however, are nearly obsolete, since incandescent lights are becoming a thing of the past. The latest and greatest lighting trend taking over the aquatics industry is light-emitting diode (LED) lighting. LED lights use much less energy and can last five times longer than a comparable incandescent light.

Wattage is a measure of how much energy a light bulb uses. In fact, it has nothing to do with the actual brightnLEss of a light bulb. Over time, consumers tend to gain a general idea of how bright a 60-watt light bulb is compared to a 100-watt light bulb. Because of this, people tend to associate the brightness of a light bulb based with its wattage rating. When looking at incandescent lights, this method for comparing brightness is useful. However, where other types of lights like LEDs are concerned, this method is useless.

The correct unit of measurement to use when measuring brightness is lumens. A lumen measures the amount of light that is emitted from a light source. One lumen is equal to the amount of light emitted from a standard birthday candle from one foot away. The ultimate goal is to produce the most light (lumens) with the least amount of energy (watts).

Many of the older swimming pool codes require 1.0 or even 0.5 watts/square foot of water surface area. Updated codes have taken the new aquatic trend of using LED-style lights into account, and have converted their measurement requirements to lumens/square foot. According to section 4.6.1.5.1 of the Model Aquatic Health Code, “Underwater lighting, where provided, shall be not less than eight initial rated lumens per square foot of pool water surface area.”

The location of underwater light fixtures in a commercial pool setting is vital to a safe and a visually-pleasing swimming pool. Depending on the shape and the intended use of the pool, a good general rule of thumb is to install light fixtures on opposing walls. For competition pools, it is not recommended to install fixtures at the ends of the pool, as swimmers need space for flip turns during competitions. It is important to ensure all tripping hazards and pool egress/ingress locations are adequately illuminated. This includes things like stairs, recessed steps, ledges and any slope transitions. Additional fixtures may be needed for swimming pools with deep water. For safety concerns, it is imperative that the entire floor of the pool is easily visible from the deck.

As fast as technology is progressing, it is important to stay up to speed on industry trends and terminology, even when it comes to items as simple as pool lighting. Knowledge of industry standards for lighting levels and fixture locations will guide owners to make informative and safety-driven decisions when lighting their pool. Luckily, Counsilman-Hunsaker is there to help ensure you have the latest industry knowledge available to you. Check out some of our latest projects and see our expertise today!